Time flies when you’re having fun! How TikTok’s algorithm gets users hooked.

Time flies when you’re having fun! How TikTok’s algorithm gets users hooked.

TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020 and is used by customers in over 150 countries worldwide. It is an entertainment/social media platform that enables users to consume or create short-form videos that are up to 3 minutes in length.

TikTok uses AI to cultivate a customized “For You”  Page (FYP) that gives tailored content to consumers based off of algorithms that identify content that might interest a user. Meaning, one person scrolling on their TikTok FYP will have a different FYP than another user, and because TikTok is collecting data about each unique user, the FYP algorithm may show different content to a user over time if viewing behavior and preferences change.

The TikTok algorithm collects information on how users behave on the app to understand unique preferences of users to rank videos of interest and show them on the FYP. Some of these signals include:

  • Videos completed
  • How many seconds spent on video
  • Videos liked
  • Videos saved
  • Videos shared
  • Content created

The algorithm also takes videos created and uses NLP to caption, hashtag, and code these videos to understand what the content is about and for which users these videos would be most interesting. This enables creators to reach audiences that would most likely be interested in their content, and consumers the most relevant content they enjoy faster than another media service such as youtube. Furthermore, the algorithm gets creators coming back for more because it enables almost any video to go viral within days, presenting an ever-present chance for creators to achieve fame or monetary success because of the endless stream of content being consumed and created, the algor

TikTok captures value by selling to advertisers, but also in that it enables creators to directly engage with advertisers and promote products that fit their target market through the creator marketplace which leads to massive brand engagement when compared with other social media sites.

TikTok has faced much scrutiny in how its algorithm works—many claim that because its algorithm measures how long users spend on videos and suggests new content in a never-ending queue for scrolling, users have gotten hooked.
Recently, due to this media criticism, TikTok has implemented short videos in its FYP queue that suggest the user gets off the app because they’ve “been scrolling too long.” In recent press releases, TikTok has stated its commitment to finding ways to promote a more positive impact on young users’ mental health in future updates to the app and altering its algorithm.


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Student comments on Time flies when you’re having fun! How TikTok’s algorithm gets users hooked.

  1. Tik tok certainly has reached an addictiveness level not achieved by any other social media, and it’s almost scary to think about the AI/ML behind it.

    Also they’ve done a good job of making the “you’ve been scrolling too long” videos so annoying that they simply elicit an eye roll as I scroll right past them. Maybe that’s just me falling for the AI.

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